What's been happening around here is this.
1. Review of selected bast-fiber yarns (in this case, linen and hemp, including some blends) for an upcoming issue of Interweave Knits.
2. Writing an article on Soay sheep for an upcoming issue of Spin-Off. The initial agreement was for 1,200 words. A few days before deadline, I asked editor Amy Clarke Moore if she'd like a bit more, because I had more to say about Soays that applies not only to that breed but to the stories of other breeds, plus great photos, plus. . . .
She said to keep going until I'd said what I wanted to. I did. It's somewhat longer than 1,200 words. . . . It's intended for the Summer 2011 issue.
Soay ewes in the morning at Saltmarsh Ranch.
3. The final, final, final set of pages for The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook arrived for their final, final, final read-through.* At the same time, we are still dealing with photo permissions. While I was writing this post, we learned that permission is proving more difficult to obtain than expected for one of the images, and were asked to say whether the proposed substitute would suffice. (It will.)
* Except that I was just asked if I can review the color proofs in a couple of weeks, to make sure that the fiber samples have not changed to inaccurate colors during pre-press adjustments. Yes.
I have built the pages a custom case by recycling parts of the UPS box they were delivered in yesterday morning. As on the previous proofing pass, I need to take the pages on an airplane with me and to work while traveling. The case protects them with minimal bulk (the as-was UPS box was too big). It also serves as a makeshift "table," because I tend to find myself in situations where I don't have access to a desk. Actually, I don't even have an open table at home. Everything's covered in boxes of wool. That's why I often retreat to the library or a coffee shop.
Deadline to be met.
4. Tuesday was the day when I ended up responding to an e-mail about something critical (which required thought and, sometimes, research) at what felt like on average every 7 minutes (I have not calculated). It was like a ping-pong game with me at one end of the table and multiple folks at the other end. (It's possible that each of my correspondents also felt the same way.) The messages related to a number of topics. The only break occurred when I left the house in the afternoon for a couple of hours to keep an appointment.
Here are some sample e-mail time-stamp sequences from the day:
am 8:56 / 8:58 / 9:00 / 9:01 / 9:06 / 9:15 / 9:41 / 9:52 / 9:53 / 9:54 / 9:59 / 10:00 / 10:01 / 10:08 . . . .
pm 12:02 / 12:03 / 12:08 / 12:40 / 1:11 / 1:22 / 1:23 / 1:24 / 1:28 / 1:29 / 1:30 / 1:35 / 1:36. . . .
- Three-day workshop (Monday through Wednesday)
Four-wheel Drive Spinning: An In-depth Look at Rare Wools
You don’t need a lot of experience to enjoy this class in unusual wools—just a willingness to have adventures. Rare-breed wools come in a huge variety of colors, textures, lengths, and descriptions. They can also be hard to obtain, and spinners often don’t know how to begin working with them. Come get your hands on a selection, and learn how to feel comfortable in the spinnerly wilds! Beginning with the shearing season and a group of special contacts, we’re collecting, for this workshop’s pleasure, fleeces from as many as 15 rare breeds of sheep listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. You should have plenty to experiment with in class, and perhaps a bit extra to take home and play with.
- One-day class (Thursday)
Let’s Get Out of the Middle of the Road! An Introduction to Rare Wools
Here’s an all-day excursion that will introduce you to some of the types of wool grown by rare breeds of sheep. We’re putting together a diverse collection of fleece varieties—aiming for 8, so we’ll have a very busy day—to whet your appetite and increase your confidence in dealing with unusual fibers.
- Retreat (four half-day sessions)
Straying from the Path: A Sampler of Rare Wools
Come join a quick jaunt through the possibilities of rare-breed wools. You’ll get an overview of what breeds are rare, and why, and you’ll get your hands on samples of at least 6 breeds. Because of the time constraints, this will be a quick hike through the territory, but you’ll come away with a good idea of what the fuss is all about.
- Notes for all sessions
Skill level: Advanced beginner—need to know how to do basic spinning and plying.
Students should bring: Wheel or spindle; fiber-prep tools of choice (combs, carders, flicker, or any other OR dog-grooming combs or slickers); the ability to wind a small centerpull ball and ply from it (or skill at Andean plying); pencil/paper; optional tape and/or hole-punch, for keeping track of fiber samples and yarns (record cards will be provided); (for three-day workshop only) sampling tools as you wish, like knitting needles, crochet hook, or Weave-It or similar extra-simple loom.
Deadline met early. I don't have time to think about this later! Gotta help gather fiber!
. . . because I've also been working with Beth Smith, at The Spinning Loft, and Jennifer Heverly, of Spirit Trail Fiberworks, to track down the materials for these classes. The wools are rare. We need fairly substantial quantities, and we need to make sure that the breeds whose wool we obtain represent a good chunk of the spectrum of fiber possibilities (they can't all be longwools, although that would be fun . . . and I think there may be a SOAR class that does focus on them . . . ). We need to start collecting and washing now.
(Oh, and I need to proof pages.)
6. Revisiting the description for the workshop I'll be teaching for the Conference of California Handweavers in California in May (also gathering fibers for that as we speak). It's a two-day workshop on rare-breed wools, intermediate in scope between the SOAR one-day and three-day sessions.
So I'll be teaching on the East Coast and the West Coast this year. The only PROBLEM with teaching at SOAR and CNCH is that I want to be a participant in several of the other class offerings! I may also have one class happening in a western plains state, although that hasn't been firmed up, and I'm not sure what it will involve. That's probably it for 2011.
Those are the biggest items that are happening around here this week.
I hope to take a break later this week and post some photos of tracks and scat that I took last week in the mountains (was it only last week??), in the interest of identifying some of our neighbors, mostly the four-footed ones.
And now I'm going to pull those pages out of their case and take another close look at them.